FIKILE-NTSIKELELO MOYA: Yes, we must dare to dream


Let me state upfront: I believe in dreams.

After President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) last week, in which he spoke at length about what he dreamt of, the reaction from many quarters, including from the opposition parties, was to pour scorn on his dreams.

Many pointed out - rightly - that there were many current and practical problems that needed to be sorted out and the president could therefore not afford the luxury of dreaming of luxuries such as speed trains and smart cities.
“Has the time not arrived for us to be bold and reach beyond ourselves to do what may seem impossible?” Ramaphosa asked rhetorically.

It was such utterances that achieved a rare feat of seeing the likes of the EFF and DA agree on anything (with the possible exception of their belief in the unworthiness of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s qualification to hold office).

As with every Sona before and certainly in the future, virtually every sector felt that the president had not said enough about their particular issue. Those in education thought he did not say enough about education, farmers felt he did not address issues in agriculture sufficiently, and so on.

On the other hand, leaders from within the ANC thought the speech was amazing. Such is the nature of state of the nation addresses that party acolytes think it should be entered into the 100 great speeches of all time, while opposition parties were left exasperated about how it was a waste of their time.

Back to dreams. No great society was ever built by people who were not bold and wanted to “reach beyond ourselves [and] do what seem[s] impossible”. This is true for whether you want to lose weight or build a business empire.

In fact, that you are reading this on what started out as a radio platform speaks to how someone out there did not limit themselves to what was alleged to be practical.

One would be hard pressed to find any great human accomplishment anywhere that did not start out as a dream and that did not have naysayers. It equally impossible that these were achieved by those who did not wake up from their dream and rolled up their sleeves to achieve what they had imagined.

I have to agree though with those who say too much energy is spent on articulating dreams and not enough on implementing. Virtually every head of state comes with a shopping list and so far, they leave having achieved little from that list.

To that extent, one can see how another president having a big dream fails to excite the populace who has been fed a diet of lofty dreams for 25 years.

The role of the state is not just about dreaming big dreams. It is also to do great deeds. There must be consequences for those who do good and those who fail to do what was expected.

In South Africa we need to restore to its special place the cycle of dreaming-doing-reflecting. We cannot afford the luxury of either dreaming or doing. They must be concurrent and ongoing and have the honesty to assess what is working and be adaptable.

There can be no convenient time to dream or to do. It is always the right time to dream and do.

Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya is an independent journalist and former editor of The Mercury and The Witness.